The Geenen Homes Blog

Stop back for West Michigan focused articles and posts about buying a home, selling a home, and then making your home even better. If you ever need help or have a question about real estate, please don't hesitate to call/text Kyle at (616) 403-0909.

In your home buying process, you may decide that you want to build a home rather than purchase a move-in-ready home. There are many steps in the building process, and doing them in a certain order can make the whole process more smooth and stress-free. Here is what we recommend you do for a hassle-free building process.

  1. Choose an architect – Choosing an architect first, rather than a builder, means the first step in your home building process is capturing your vision. You will plan your home design, look at the specs, and find put together exactly what you want in your home.
  2. Choose a builder – Once you have your dream home drafted up on paper, you should choose a builder. You can then have a plan ready to present to a builder to get estimates and feedback when determining what builder to use. Having met with the architect, pick a builder that reflects your vision in the quality of their work. In addition, having these plans ready will allow a builder to give you a more accurate timeline, cost, and determine compatibility with said builder.
  3. Lot search – Many people search for a vacant piece of land/lot prior to meeting with an architect or builder. However, by having your dream home drafted by an architect and a builder picked, you can weed out the lots that do not fit into the budget or design plan. You should pick a lot that has a desirable location to increase your home value. by picking out a builder prior to a lot, you are able to consult your builder on lot options because there could be additional fees if trees need to be removed, water and sewer need to be added in, etc.

After you have found an architect, builder, and a lot, the process of getting the land ready and beginning construction takes place. The timeline for this can vary depending on how much work the lot needs prior to construction starting. If you do not know of any architects or builders, our team is more than happy to provide you will recommendations and then help you find the perfect piece of land to build your home!

Tulip Time is one of the busiest and biggest events in Holland, MI for the entire year. It is one of the city’s most popular events, and one of the reasons we love Holland so much! There are so many things for families to do this upcoming Tulip Time week and weekend. Here is a run-down of just a few of the activities to check out

Dutch Dancing – We are known worldwide for our famous Dutch Dancers compiled from local schools and alumni groups. There are many times over the course of this week to watch the Dutch Dancers perform around Centennial Park and Downtown Holland.

Dutch Marktplaats & Food Court – Are you interested in learning more about traditional Dutch foods and customs? Check out the Marktplaats & food court on Thursday-Saturday May 10-12 between 10AM-5PM at the Evergreen Commons. You can try traditional Dutch foods and even see wooden shoes being made!

Kinderparade – The Kinderparade features schoolchildren dressed in Dutch costumes. This event includes kids Dutch Dancing on Thursday, May 10 at 1:20PM and a parade following from 2-3PM down 8th street!

Muziekparade – This is the big parade on Saturday, May 12 from 2-3PM taking place on 8th street to Columbia and from Van Raalte to 24th St. You will see floats, Dutch Dancers, marching bands, and more!

Fireworks – The annual Dutch Festival fireworks are set to take place at Kollen Park on Saturday, May 12 starting at dusk. There will be a live band starting at 6:30PM and fireworks will begin at dusk. This is a show you do not want to miss!

Carnival – Down by the old Civic Center off River and 8th St, there is a carnival. This is a great family friendly event offered each day this week and weekend for some good games and rides sure to thrill the family.

Food Stands – All over downtown you will find food stands including things like cotton candy, elephant ears, fresh lemonade, corndogs, and so much more! Be sure to head down and grab yourself a treat, you deserve it!

We love our city of Holland for the people and the traditions, like the Tulip Time Festival, that has been carried on throughout the generations. Be sure to stop into Downtown Holland and check it out!

For more information on each day’s activities visit and specific times for things like Dutch Dance performances visit: https://www.tuliptime.com/events

A home search should always start with getting pre-approved through a lender of your choice, assuming you are not paying cash for your home purchase. By getting pre-approved, you will be doing the work up front to ensure you are putting your best foot forward when submitting an offer on a home. Here are some reasons why getting pre-approved matters when beginning your home search.

Competitive Market – There are a lot of buyers in the market right now, which means you need to have your ducks in a row when making an offer. By having a pre-approval letter from your lender, it shows a seller that you are a serious buyer and that you can afford the home. Many sellers will not accept an offer unless the buyer has been pre-approved; therefore, getting a pre-approval prior to beginning your home search means you will be fully prepared to make your best offer possible when the perfect home for you comes around.

Know Your Budget – Going through the pre-approval process with your lender means all of your finances will be reviewed. Your debt to income ratio, monthly expenses, credit score, and income will be evaluated to determine what you can comfortably afford in a total home purchase, downpayment, and monthly mortgage payment without being house broke. This will provide you with information on what homes you should consider when looking at your monthly expenses, yearly taxes, and possible home ownership association dues so that you do not break your budget.

Reduce Stress – Going into a home search without a pre-approval can make for rocky waters. The unknown of how much you can realistically afford and the scrambling to get financing in place when trying to make an offer can make your home search a stressful experience. By working with a lender right away, you will be more knowledgeable from the get-go, your realtor will have a better idea of what you are looking for in a home, and you have a higher chance of any offer you submit getting accepted.

In short, getting a pre-approval will increase your negotiation power when submitting an offer, increase the time between contract to closing day, increase the likelihood of your offering being accepted, and it will allow you to decrease the stress by giving you a well-rounded understanding of your limits when purchasing a home.

While we love our furry friends, there are certain steps that should be taken when listing a home where pets are currently living. Some people can be fearful or nervous around pets, and sometimes buyers can have negative stigmas associated with homes where pets live as well. Here are some helpful tips with  how to successfully sell your home when you have pets.

Litter Boxes – Keep these cleaned on a daily basis to eliminate any chance of a smell, and keep them out of sight if able.

Stained carpet – Do you have stained carpet from pet accidents? Get these professionally cleaned prior to listing to ensure a buyer has a positive experience when viewing your home.

Odors – Try to eliminate odors if possible through cleaning of carpets, fabrics, airing out the home, and everyday cleaners. Avoid using air fresheners if possible since this can be an overwhelming smell to buyers, especially if they have allergies.

Showing Time – During open houses and private showings, it is important to remove the pets from the home. Not everyone is comfortable around pets and not all pets are comfortable around all people. For an optimal showing experience for potential buyers, the safest bet is to have the animals removed while the home is being shown. Many home owners whose home is on the market even choose to temporarily relocate the pet to a family or friend’s home to reduce the hassle of needing to repeatedly remove the animal from the home during showings and open houses.

Damage – Has your pet chewed or ruined something like hardwood flooring, moulding, carpet, furniture, doors, walls, the yard, fences, etc? If so, getting these repaired or replaced prior to listing your home can help raise the appeal to a potential buyer.

Outdoors – Speaking of the yard, it is important to consistently pick up after your pet in the yard on a daily basis when your home is on the market. You want to showcase the yard as well as you showcase the house, and you do not want a potential buyer to accidentally step in something.

Doing all of these things will help to make your home a more inviting and appealing place for a buyers to envision living, and it ensures both the safety of your pet along with those that come into the home.

As the spring market continues to heat up, we are seeing more buyers beginning to home search in anticipation of finding the perfect home for them. With more buyers emerging, here are some things buyers should know about buying a home in today’s market in 2018.

1. Downpayment & Mortgage – You do not always need to have a 20% downpayment on a home in order to secure financing. Many lenders are becoming more lenient with the amount you need for a downpayment. Speak with a lender when you begin your search to get pre-approved up to a purchase price of a certain amount, with a certain interest rate, and a certain down payment. While it is advised to put as much down for a downpayment as you are able, there are mortgage programs out there for people putting down 3-10% of the purchase price.

2. CompetitionThere is a surplus of buyers in the market today, which means there is more competition to securing a contract on a home. It is not uncommon to have competition on homes with multiple offers, especially within a certain price point, and competition comes with full cash buyers. Be prepared to compromise on your offer in terms of price, closing date, inspections, and other terms if you have your heart set on one home above another. 

3. Inventory Since there is a surplus of buyers, homes on the market tend to get scooped up quickly and turn into a pending sale. This means that there is less inventory of homes in the market at one time for buyers to consider. Right now, there is not enough consistent supply of listings to meet the demands of the many buyers. This is good to know since it can affect how you negotiate an offer on a home due to the tight market and the other buyers waiting to swoop in and purchase a home if a deal falls through. 

4. Professional Help – The lower inventory and higher competition means it is essential for buyers to get a professional real estate agent. An agent has been through the ups and downs of the real estate market, which makes them experienced in a way that can help guide you through the process better than going it alone. Since the seller pays for the agents commissions as part of the home cost, it is only to your advantage that you get with a professional for help in your home search. We would love to help you!

Beginning to look at houses can sometimes be overwhelming and complicated, we are here to help guide you through the process, make it smoother, and make it an enjoyable experience. The home searching and buying experience does not need to be exhausting. Here are some helpful tips for first time home buyers.

Spending Capacity – It is important to look into your budget and talk to a loan officer about what you can afford with your current income, debts, and expenses. Being pre-qualified for a loan should be your first step since this will allow you to know what your spending limits are when putting in offers and searching for homes.

Make a plan – The home searching can take some time to find the perfect home for you. Take the time to figure out your options in terms of neighborhoods and cities to see if there are locations where you would like to live.

Explore your options – While making a plan on location is important, so is the type of home you are looking to purchase. Figure out your must-have requirements to avoid wasting time on homes you do not want and figure out terms that you can be flexible about as well. Many people do not end up purchasing exactly what they were looking for; however, it is important to know what features/amenities you will and will not compromise on.

Cost of Home Ownership – Home ownership is not merely the cost of purchasing initially and the mortgage afterwards. There are typically more utilities than rentals, taxes, insurance, and home owners association fees as well along with general upkeep. Look at your financials to ensure you are able to afford all of these things prior to purchasing a home.

Call an Agent – Working with a knowledgeable, experienced, and reputable real estate agent can lighten your load and enlighten your experience. Connect right away to ensure you have all the ins and outs of purchasing a home at your disposable along with an advocate on your side when searching and putting in an offer. We would love to connect with you to help you in your home search and buying process!

One of our team’s favorite things about living in Holland, Michigan is all of the delicious and decadent restaurants to grab some good grub. Holland is home to many locally owned and operated food establishments. Here are some of our team’s favorite local hotspots for food.

Seventy Six – A newer addition to Downtown Holland, this restaurant prides itself in using fresh ingredients from both local farms and artisanal worldly ingredients to bring a modern feel to American food. We love the wholesome ingredients and unique pairings that go into each dish. Some of our favorite menu items includes the Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup, Braised Beef Risotto Fritters, Really Good Lemon Chicken, and the Butterscotch Bread Pudding. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list and amazing handcrafted cocktails that pair perfectly with the food!

Itty Bitty Bar – The Itty Bitty Bar is a great place for a casual night out with from friends for good food and conversation. Right down the road on Ottawa Beach, this is a great place to hang out in the summer. Some of our favorite dishes include the hanger steak skewers, fish tacos, and the burgers. Pair these with the smoked gouda ale and you have yourself a delicious meal!

The Windmill – One of Downtown Holland’s classics and community favorites, the Windmill has been a family run business since 1983. It offers a cozy, hometown feel with the classic Holland Dutch atmosphere. The breakfast food is our team favorite with items like homemade cinnamon rolls, the Bird’s Nest, the French Double Take, and Kyle’s favorite, the Breakfast Bite

The Biscuit – The Biscuit is a charming place to grab a delectable breakfast or lunch, located in Washington Square. The food served is made using natural and unprocessed ingredients, locally sourced as often as possible. Some of our favorite dishes include the Eggs Harper Rose, Berries and Cream French Toast, and the Breakfast Tacos. The hot cocoa is sure to warm you up and lift your spirits on dreary, cold days!

deBoer Bakkerij & Dutch Brothers Restaurant – Since our office is right down Ottawa Beach Rd., one of our favorite places to grab a team lunch is at deBoer. The bakery always has fresh baked goods. We often enjoy their homemade speciality donuts like the birthday cake donut and coffee in the mornings. Some of our favorite foods include their pig in the blankets, Crab Cake Benedict, and the Klompencakes.

When choosing between whether you should purchase a home or continue to rent, there are many factors you should keep in mind. The base cost of a mortgage payment can often be comparable to the monthly cost of renting. However, there are other financial aspects to evaluate prior to purchasing a home because there are more cost associated with home ownership than that of renting.

1. Down Payment – Many lenders require home buyers to have 20% of the home purchase price for a downpayment. If you do not have 20%, you may be able to do less, but you will need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) until you’ve reached the 20% mark in mortgage payments. PMI can range from .05% to 1% of your total loan amount, which can make for an additional cost of $100+ per month in your mortgage payment.

2. Closing Costs – Upon purchasing a home, you will need to pay for “closing costs”. These costs include lender fees, escrow fees, title and recording fees as well as admin fees from the real estate brokerage you use. Sometimes the costs are as low as $1,000; other times a buyer will pay close to $6,000 in closing costs

3. Monthly Expenses – In addition to paying a mortgage, home owning means monthly expenses including home insurance, a home owner’s association, utilities, taxes, loan interest, and PMI (if you do not put down 20%). It is important to assess these costs and address your budget to determine if you can afford these additional monthly expenses.

4. Savings – When renting, if something goes wrong in the home, chances are that the landlord pays for those repairs. However, when owning a home, those repairs fall on the home owner’s responsibility. You will need to have savings for maintenance and repairs like cleaning the gutters, repairing/replacing the roof, hiring a plumber or electrician, purchasing new appliances, etc. A good rule to follow is to set aside 1% of the home purchase price for these expenses per year.

5.Timeline – A final question to answer is how long you plan to stay in this place of residence. Expenses like a home inspection, title insurance, real estate commissions, attorney fees, and other closing costs are covered above are easier to spread out over many years. Therefore, if you are only planning to be in the home a couple of years, these costs may add up to more than you would pay in rent over those couple of years in the home.

 

An important piece of marketing when listing your home is working with your agent to schedule open houses. This allows for many people to come through your home at one time, and it allows your agent to help showcase the home to make a lasting impression. Here are some helpful how-to tips of how to set up your home for a successful open house that leaves potential buyers impressed.

1. Keep it Clean – The cleaner your home is, the better. Make sure you have dusted throughout the house and scrubbed the showers till they sparkle. Pay extra attention in the kitchen and the bathrooms as these can often be areas that are make it or break it aspects for potential buyers. This is also the time to clean the moulding, the walls, and anything else that is not usually tackled on a weekly basis.

2. Get Rid of Clutter – Declutter by removing seasonal items (coats and holiday decorations), organize closets and storage, and put away distracting knickknacks. Doing all of this will allow potential buyers to visualize the potential for their personal items in the home and see all the wonderful features your home has to offer.

3. Depersonalize – We think your children, pets, and family are lovely! However, a potential buyer wants to see what the home could look like for them. Get a head start on packing and cut down on the personalized items in your home (i.e. photos, cards, papers hanging on the fridge, etc.). Your home will seem more open, inviting, and it allows potential buyers to imagine their family in that space.

4. All of the Lights- No one wants to walk into a dark, dimly lite room, especially if they are trying to envision themselves living there. Open up your curtains, blinds, and turn on all the lights. A home that is cheerful and bright is more likely to leave a pleasing, happy impression on a buyer than one that is darker and dim.

5. Do I smell cookies? – Who does not love the smell of freshly baked cookies? If you are able, make a small batch of cookies before the open house for your potential buyers to enjoy both the smell and the taste. If you cannot, buy some store bought cookies and light a yummy scented candle before the open house, then blow it out before you leave. Having a familiar smell, like fresh baked goods, makes it feel homey and comfortable for a potential buyer.

6. Stage your home – Hanging the nice towels in the bathroom and kitchen and setting the table as if you were sitting down for a nice meal are two ways you can “stage” your home without breaking the bank. Buyers will walk into the home better able to visualize and the small, pretty details will help make your home stick out from all the others.

7. Is it broken? – Potential buyers are going to look in all the nooks and crannies of your home. Ensure that anything obviously broken is repaired prior to allowing them into the home. Things like leaky faucets, burnt out light bulbs, broken windowpanes/windows, and slow running drains are things people are sure to notice during an open house.

8. Pet Policy – Not all buyers are pet-friendly or they may have allergies, and not all pets are human-friendly. Make sure to remove your pets from the house during the open house timeframe. If you are unable to remove them, restrict them to a less-trafficked space in the house.

9. Leave – While we certainly like you a lot, potential buyers are going to be more comfortable when looking around and asking questions if you are not standing off to the side. This is a perfect time to run some errands, visit a family member or friend, spend some time outside at a park, or take the kids somewhere fun. Your agent will be sure to showcase the house well and highlight its’ best features to all potential buyers coming through the open house.

10. Trust Us – Your agent is here to help present the house at its’ best! The Geenen Group puts out signage directing to your open house, puts your open house on the most popular listing websites (including social media), and provides both informational sheets along with beautiful feature sheets with pictures of your home for potential buyers to take. These things help draw in potential buyers and put your home in the best light for selling quickly.

Spring is just around the corner, which means that the Spring Market has sprung! If you are thinking of selling your home, it is time to start sprucing up your home where buyers will see if first, from the exterior. Creating appeal of your home to potential buyers starts at the curb of the street your home is on.

Here are ten tips to help you get started in making the best first impression to potential buyers.

1. Check the paint and siding – Michigan Winters can wreak havoc on a home’s paint job and siding. Take a moment to look over your home to see if there are sections you should power wash, repaint, or replace piece of the siding. Doing this can give your home a much needed face lift, making it looks years younger. 

2. Is the roof in good condition? – Having a roof that is covered in leaves, faded, or missing any shingles can make it look older, which can turn buyers away from homes. Make sure your roof is clear of yard waste, debris, and looks fresh.

3. House numbers – Can you read and see your house numbers from the road? If not, it might be time to upgrade the numbers on your home. Having numbers that are easy to find and read can make an impact. To add further appeal, make sure the numbers are not faded or damaged. In either case, putting up new numbers that reflect the style of the home and complement the exterior of the home can make quite a difference.

4. Spring clean that yard – Michigan’s many seasons causes there to be yard work always needing to be done at the end and beginning of each of these seasons. At the end of winter, clear out any remaining dead leaves from Fall and pick up any fallen branches. Now plant some Spring flowers and plants to give your home a fresh, vibrant look that is sure to make the home look inviting and appealing. Lastly, make sure to mow your lawn once or twice per week to keep it looking cared for and fresh.

5. Under pressure – Does your home have a deck or a porch that is exposed to the outdoor elements? Borrow a power washer from a friend or rent one from a local hardware store. By pressure washing the deck and even the driveway to get rid of oil spots, you will be upping the curb appeal of your home in a very cost-effective way.

6. Windows – There are two things that can raise your curb appeal when looking at windows. First, keep your curtains open while the home is on the market, it makes it brighter inside and looks prettier when looking in from outside. Second, clean your windows on both the inside and the outside. Winter months means that dust can gather on the inside, and that dirt can pile up from the snow on the outside. Giving your windows a fresh wipe down gives your home a cleaner, clearer, and more uniform look.

7. Light it up – Not all buyers are going around during daylight hours. If your home does not have exterior lighting, it can be difficult for a potential buyer to spot a for sale sign or even see the home from the outside. Adding some landscaping lights and lighting by the front door will allow for the home to be seen at all times of day. If you already have lighting, check to make sure no bulbs are burnt out

8. Front Door – There are many things you can do to make the front door a key focal point for buyers. First, choosing a paint color that contrasts yet compliments from the house can make your home stand out on the market. Second, adding a seasonal door decoration, cute doormat, and/or new knocker adds some flair and personality to your home. Lastly, adding some taller plants by the front door can draw potential buyer’s eyes and make the home seem grand.

9. Living Space – Adding a porch swing, garden bench, or sitting area outside can show potential buyers ways that your home can be a functional place to relax outside in addition to inside. If your home has space in the backyard, showcasing a hangout zone with a patio set, grilling space, outdoor bar, or a fire pit allows buyers to see how they can entertain family and friends, which adds to the appeal of your home.

10. Online Appeal – Once all of these steps have been reviewed, it is time for pictures to be taken. Most buyers find your home online, which means the pictures showcasing your home need to be top-notch to leave a lasting impression. Hiring a realtor that takes time to find the best angles, best lighting, and uses the best equipment for pictures can make a world of difference when a buyer is looking online.

Doing all or even one of these things can really amp up the number of buyers that are interested in your home through their initial impression from the outside.

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